They all come to see Lee: Highly recruited prep forward brings much national attention to rural Dallas County school

They all come to see Lee: Highly recruited prep forward brings much national attention to rural Dallas County school


They all come to see Lee: Highly recruited prep forward brings much national attention to rural Dallas County school



Having unexpected visitors drop by the gym at Dallas County High has been the norm of late.

Even Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Brown has visited the Class 4A high school.

“It has been pretty hectic here,” Dallas County boys basketball coach Willie Moore said. “Every day it’s a different school — multiple schools. … We’ve had coaches at our football games because of him. We’ve had coaches attend our volleyball games because they want to spend as much time here as possible.

“We’ve never experienced anything like this around here.”

School administrators can thank William “Ha Ha” Lee for all the attention. As one of the country’s top high school basketball prospects, Lee remains undecided about his future, so college recruiters keep coming around in hopes of securing a commitment.

The versatile forward is ranked 65th and 139th in the nation by ESPN and Rivals, respectively, in the class of 2014. And with the early signing period just days away, programs like Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and UAB have ratcheted up their already aggressive pursuit.

“I really don’t pay attention to it,” Lee said. “I am a very humble kid. I just work on my game to get better and better every day. Those rankings and stuff like that don’t really matter to me.”

The 18-year-old averaged 19.6 points, 17.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists last season en route to earning 4A Player of the Year and all-state honors.

However, the recruiting process hasn’t exactly been a blast for the 6-foot-8 senior. Things like phone calls and countless commitment inquiries from classmates and media has begun to take their toll.

“I’ve enjoyed it, but then again, I didn’t enjoy it too much,” said Lee, a Selma native. “It’s been a fun trip being recruited. It has been stressful at times, but I am just ready to make my decision and get this all behind me as soon as possible.”

Moore believes that because of Lee’s laid-back personality, recruiting wasn’t enjoyable at first.

“Early on, he hated the recruiting process,” Moore said. “William’s humble … so he really didn’t like all the attention. I assured him that it’s a positive thing for his family, the school and the community, not just the basketball program.”

Since Dallas County is smack dab in the middle of SEC territory, it’s to be expected that schools from the conference would have the inside track on Lee’s commitment. However, Brown’s SMU program also has entered the picture to become a major player in the Lee sweepstakes.

The only coach ever to claim both an NCAA national title and an NBA championship, the 73-year-old Brown has quickly changed the culture at SMU, with several elite recruits giving verbal comments.

“It shocked me,” Lee said of Brown’s visit. “I was asking myself, ‘Is this really Coach Brown? Coach Brown really came down here to see me?’ That was the biggest surprise. I was just looking at him in awe — it was crazy.”

Alabama Challenge’s Leonard Provo, Lee’s AAU coach, understands full well why college coaches are clamoring to land the lankly swingman.

“He could barely run when I first (coached him) in eighth grade,” Provo recalled. “He always had a pretty nice shot, but he just wasn’t a ballplayer yet. Less than a year later, his game had risen so much. By ninth grade, Ha Ha was doing … everything on the court.

“Anyone that doesn’t get Ha Ha is going to be missing a gem. A lot of schools will make their (recruiting) picks based upon where William goes. … He’s going to bring a lot of attention to kids down here just because of the schools who are recruiting him. He’s going to make a strong impact by year two.”


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